[Al-Fanar Media] Importing higher education: a Qatari experiment

Northwestern University in Qatar

The following excerpt is from "Importing Higher Education: A Qatari Experiment," published by Al-Fanar Media:

What happens when the world’s richest country invests billions of dollars to get top Western universities to teach on its territory? That ambitious experiment is playing out in the small Persian Gulf country of Qatar.

Two decades ago, the emirate decided to jump start its provision of higher education by inviting world-class universities to open branches there. The result is Education City, a large campus on the outskirts of the capital, Doha, housing branches of six American universities, as well as one British and one French institution.

Rather than finding one American university to open various schools, Qatar adopted a model in which different U.S. institutions would each provide one specialty in which it had a particular strength. In addition to Georgetown, there is (with the year the branch opened): Virginia Commonwealth University (fine arts, 1998), Weill Cornell Medical College (medicine, 2002), Texas A&M University (engineering, 2003), Carnegie Mellon University (business administration, computer science, 2004), and Northwestern University (journalism, 2008).

Students come from a variety of countries. But Education City is focused chiefly on educating Qatar’s own citizens, unlike the higher-education hubs in neighboring United Arab Emirates and other countries that are often financially dependent on recruiting regionally or even globally. Although Qatar has a population of 2.3 million, a large majority are foreigners brought in to fill a variety of jobs in the booming economy.

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